2008-03-07 / Sports

Golf Instruction - The Short Game-Bunker Shots

By Joel Garyn

(Garyn is a USGFT golf professional. You can contact him for lessons at 347- 404-3751.)

Most golfers dread the thought of having to hit their ball out of the bunker. Playing from the sand is not easy for most players, simply because they do not have the proper instruction needed for playing these shots.

There are two types of bunker shots, the greenside bunker shot and the fairway bunker shot which we discussed last week. The green bunker shot is the only shot in golf where the club does not hit the ball. The club first enters the sand, and then as the club moves through the sand, the displacement of the sand pops the ball into the air.

It is important to use the correct type of club in the sand. A sand wedge is much more effective in the sand then other wedges, because the sand wedge has (1) a larger sole or flange to keep the club from digging too much, (2) more loft to lift the ball, and (3) more weight in the head of the golf club to keep the club moving through the sand. Fundamentals for the Greenside Bunker Shot

For this shot the setup and the swing are basically the same as the pitch shot (which was discussed in the earlier lesson). You should, however, note a couple changes when setting up.

First, make sure you have a secure footing. If the sand is soft, make sure you dig your feet in the sand to get a good base or foundation.

Next, make sure you hold the club closer to where the grip meets the shaft, since your feet will be lower in the sand.

Otherwise, the club will dig too far into the sand during the swing. Last, open the clubface unless the ball is buried in the sand.

For the greenside bunker play there are two important swing thoughts. First, you must swing aggressively, because the weight of the sand greatly reduces the club head speed. When preparing for this shot, visualize hitting the shot five times harder then you actually need to.

The second swing thought is to make sure you hit the sand. The club does not make contact with the ball for this type of shot.

While swinging, forget about the ball and think about the sand. Your club should enter the sand between two to three inches behind the ball. Both swing thoughts, swing aggressively hit the sand, must be followed for a successful shot.

Memorize this 5-point plan for your basic bunker technique: (1) Open the clubface, then make your grip.

(2) Aim about 30 degrees or so left of the target; shuffle your feet into the sand for balance.

(3) Focus on a spot in the sand two or three inches behind the ball.

(4) Swing the club back along your body line. Stay down with it through impact, and always accelerate through the shot.

(5) Control length of the shot with length of the follow-through.

This part of the game is so important that I will talk about it again next week. I feel it is critical that we visit this area of the game and review the proper swing mechanics. We will touch on buried lies, imbedded lies, uphill and downhill and 40-50 yard bunker shots, the ones that catch your ball short of the green and you are in a dilemma on whether to blast out or chip…

Always remember this - - your selfworth has nothing to do with your ability to play golf well!!!

If you have any questions, please email me at itchgolf@aol.com or call.

Have a great week and take care.

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